[JURIST] President Obama on Monday issued an executive order [White House factsheet] that requires federal contractors to provide at least seven days of paid sick leave to employees. Obama announced his intent during a Labor Day speech in Boston, where he simultaneously urged Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act [H.R. 1286], which would provide similar sick leave for all employees of companies with more than 15 employees. The President seemingly chose Boston for his announcement because Massachusetts approved similar paid sick leave legislation last year. The order will provide employees of federal contractors with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked; however; it will not go into effect until 2017. In response to the order, the National Federation of Independent Business’ media director Jack Mozloom quipped, “[n]o business in America would require its suppliers and contractors to increase costs that will naturally boomerang back in the form of higher prices…. For workers whose employers can’t absorb the cost [of mandatory paid leave], it’s an arbitrary expense that will ultimately result in shorter hours, lower pay or disappearing jobs.” The administration estimates that 44 million private sector workers go without paid sick leave, and that by offering it, companies can expect reduced turnover and greater productivity.
As President Obama’s time in office comes to a close, he has been particularly focused on rights in the workplace. Late last month, a federal appeals court reinstated [opinion, text] regulations promulgated by the Obama administration to extend minimum wage and overtime to those who provide home care for the elderly and disabled. Also in August, the National Labor Relations Board, at the behest of the President, changed [NY Times report] the definition of employer-employee to make companies that staff using a contractor joint employers of the workers at the facility. This ruling is expected to have a particularly strong impact on fast-food workers. Last year, President Obama issued several significant executive orders providing greater rights in the workplace, including Executive Order 13672 [JURIST reports], which added the words “sexual orientation and gender identity” into existing executive orders that prohibit certain forms of discrimination in employment by federal contractors.